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Russian soldiers in Moscow’s Red Square before a ceremony marking the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russia in September 2022ALEXANDER NEMENOV (AFP)
The United States on Tuesday accused Russia of violating the New START treaty, signed after the Cold War and the last remaining in force between the two major nuclear powers to control their nuclear weapons. Moscow does not allow planned inspections on its territory, the State Department claims in a statement to Congress. It is the latest gesture of a drastic and accelerated deterioration in relations between the two governments since the Kremlin gave the green light to invade Ukraine almost a year ago.
The agreement entered into force in 2011 during the US presidency of Barack Obama, who wanted to make the fight against nuclear weapons one of the pillars of his foreign policy, with questionable success. This pact between Washington and Moscow, which together stockpile 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, was extended for another five years in 2021.
The New Start limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy to 1,500, as well as the launch vehicles — submarines or land vehicles — and missiles to launch them. The agreement has as its main axis a system of mutual inspections of the respective arsenals.
But the Kremlin has already indicated that it will phase it out in 2026 because the United States “seeks Russia’s strategic defeat in Ukraine” and hinted that the nuclear arms control void left by this treaty may not be filled : “That means a perfectly possible scenario,” confirmed the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Riabkov.
“Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” the State Department said in a statement. Moscow had not authorized US inspections under the treaty since August, arguing that Washington’s sanctions prevented it from conducting its own probes into the rival country’s stockpiles.
The regular meeting of the Pact’s bilateral monitoring committee also did not take place in November as planned. Russia has decided to postpone the meeting in Egypt and neither side has set a new date.
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New START does not cover smaller, harder-to-detect tactical nuclear weapons that were designed for use against specific battlefield targets and have never been regulated. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Russia possesses about 2,000 heads of this type, while the United States dismantled most of its arsenal after the fall of the Berlin Wall and maintains about two hundred today. Moscow has gone so far as to threaten its involvement in the war in Ukraine, although it appears to have given up that rhetoric in recent months.
In August 2019, the Donald Trump administration announced that the United States would withdraw from another disarmament agreement, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Pact, which had been in force since the 1980s.
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The United States accuses Russia of violating the New START nuclear disarmament agreement – S Chronicles
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